Often people comment that they could never make a quilt from one of their travel inspirations because they don’t have the skill to do so.
Well, I am here to tell you that these quilts don’t have to be complicated….they can be super easy and yet still serve as a reminder of the good times.
Back before I started the “Bridge of River Kew” quilt, I posted the inspiration and told the story of my fun day at Kew Gardens in London. You can check out the post and read the story here.
One of the many photos that I took that day was of this gorgeous flower….
Just after we returned from the trip I was involved in a monthly quilt-a-long and one of the prompts was to print a photo on fabric and use 1.5 inch squares of other fabrics to highlight and frame the photo. The entire quilt was only 12 inches square.
I cropped the photo to approximately 4 x 5.5 inches, added a 1/4 inch border around each side to make it 4.5 x 6 inches (finished size), and then surrounded it with fabrics that matched the colors in the photo.
This was the final result…..
It was super simple…..super fast….and yet it still brings a smile to my face as I remember a sweet day in Kew Gardens!!!
So, get out there and start quilting your memories!!!
Back in 2008, Michael and I made our first foray to India, spending most of our time in the city of Bangalore. This was still early on in our travel career and I was not super comfortable traveling around by myself, but one of the days I screwed up my courage and headed to a local Fine Arts Gallery. I went back and read my entries for that day and loved the memory……
Sukumar had told me of a Fine Arts Gallery that was fairly close to the Institute and I had been able to find it on a map that Paul Billy had given me, so I ventured outside of the main gate and hailed an Auto (Rickshaw). It did not seem encouraging that it took four drivers to figure out where I wanted to go even though I was pointing to it on a map!!! They finally agreed and I set off with one of the drivers. Since I wasn’t really sure that he knew where he was going, I watched closely on the map. He stopped a couple of blocks short of my destination but I gratefully alighted on the sidewalk. We were in front of a fancy hotel, so I asked the guard where the Gallery was and he pointed me off down the street. As I was walking past, another Auto-driver offered to take me, but I told him that I needed the exercise…..he laughed. When I finally got there, the same driver was waiting for me and pointed me to the entrance!!!!
The gallery is part of the College of Fine Arts. I spent a few minutes in the store which sells not only the student’s art, but that of the professors as well. I came close to buying a painting, but was concerned about how to get it back to the US. (NOTE…..if this had been today I DEFINITELY would have bought the painting and worried later about how to get it home)!! I paid for my entrance to the gallery….just 10 rupees (2.5 cents)!!!!!
As I walked up the stairs, a woman met me and showed me into a gallery. As I entered the darkened gallery, she turned on the lights and fans and stood with me while I looked. This first gallery was filled with paintings that had extremely bright colors. I finally found a plaque that said that the pictures were painted with tempera paint.
As I left the gallery, the lights and fans were turned off, and I was shown into another gallery where the lights and fans were turned on again. This continued all throughout the galleries and I came to enjoy the company of my “minder”, even though she spoke very little English. As I entered the topmost gallery, the floor was covered with a thick bamboo carpeting, and my hostess was laying down on the floor. She started to stand up hastily as I approached, but I motioned for her to stay put. She said thank you and that she had a “bad back”. I told her that I understood perfectly and that I might well join her on the floor. As I finished the final gallery, she looked at me and said “Last”…..my signal to leave!!!
As I left the gallery, I noticed some more art that was in a garden area just to one side. Since I did not see a “No-Photo” sign, I took a few pictures of the outside art. My favorite piece was mounted in a tree. It was a series of giant ants made from wire and plastic wrap that culminated in a large “nest” high up in the tree. There were even some ants at the base of the tree, fighting to be the next to climb up. It was very entertaining!!!!!….
As I walked around the campus a bit I noticed a young woman sitting at the base of a Banyon tree and was greatly moved by the image.
After this SUPER long introduction, this is my “Almost Wordless Wednesday” offering!!!
Now let’s finish the story of the outing…..
As I left the compound, I spoke with an Auto driver who informed me that would not take me back to the Institute, because he would not be able to pick up a fare inside and would have to come back empty. Another older driver came up and said that he would gladly take me. He was wonderful and talked to me about the area that we were driving in. He pointed out some of the houses and said that this was a very rich area, but that most of Bangalore was not the same. I told him that we had been living in Bonasvati and he seemed relieved that I didn’t think that Bangalore was filled with rich people. I told him that he could drop me at the front gate, but he insisted on driving me to the door of the guest house, yet another example of the friendliness of the Indian people!!
At last I am returning to the Travel Quilt series. I was enjoying writing about them and then hit one that needed to be photographed before I could write about it and that just shut me down…..I couldn’t get motivated to photograph it!!! Does that ever happen to you….something so small just shuts you down???
Anyway…. the next quilt was from a fun day in 2007 in the Yorkshire Dales of England.
But, that is the end, let’s start at the beginning…..
When we lived in Australia in the early 1980’s, we became enamored with the James Herriott series, “All Creatures Great and Small” We watched the TV shows, we read the books, and we dreamed of the day that we would visit the glorious Yorkshire Dales.
That day arrived while we were on a two month trip to England where Michael was a Visiting Research Fellow at Merton College at Oxford University. He worked most days while we were there and this side trip was his reward for the hard work!!
We arrived at our Bed and Breakfast and started talking to the proprietors. When they found out that we enjoyed hiking, they suggested that we take a hike around the dales the next day, following a 10 mile trail!!
We had a marvelous day as we hiked up the hills……
crossed over the stiles……
lunched at a local pub……
passed farm after farm…..
got lost numerous times
We arrived back at the Bed and Breakfast tired but with memories of the wonderful sights of the day…..
Now let’s get to the quilt……
I wanted to make a quilt for Michael that would remind him of our wonderful day of hiking. I started by playing with two pieces of fabric that I had purchased on the trip…..
…..and then discovered that they were part of a collection …..
I picked photos that I loved from the hike and searched for quilt blocks with names that spoke to the day as well…..
Then I started playing on the design wall, using photocopies to help me determine the size and placement of the various elements……
And came up with this quilt……
It was fun to include road signs and Farm Names as part of the quilt…..
We still talk about this wonderful day in the Yorkshire Dales and long to return sometime to do a LONGER hike….one where you hike from Pub to Pub and your luggage is transported and waiting for you when you arrive. Doesn’t that sound like fun!!!!
Yesterday I spent some time looking thru photos from previous international trips, starting with a 2012 trip to Turkey. We had two weeks in the country, beginning with one week in the small city of Kars, located in the far eastern part of the country, not far from the Armenia border.
If you are interested in posts from the trip, start HERE. I will say that it was one of the sweetest trips that we have been on, and we have been on a few!!
Anyway, back to the inspiration…..
I took a photo of this road while walking around in the city…..
….ignore my foot!!
As I studied this photo I started playing with pen and paper, trying to get an idea of how I might turn it into a quilt.
This has potential but if I want to offset the “spools”, I will have to piece the strip between the rectangles and then attach them. That could get tricky!!
I played a bit more with the spool idea and came up with this thought…..
It might be fun to use stripe fabrics in each of the blocks…..
Anyway, for now this is just a thought to put back for a later time, but it was a fun exercise!!!
Today’s photo comes from my and Michael’s very first day in China. We were on our way to Dali and passed a local market. We spent about an hour there and enjoyed our introduction to the typical Chinese marketplace. Although these guys were bound for the executioner, I loved the photo that resulted…..
Two days ago, I posted my initial thoughts about “The Parasol Dancers of Green Lake”, ending the day with the sample looking like this…..
Today I returned to the quilting and started playing with different ideas of how to complete the background. I added trees, shrubs, and simple line groupings with the final practice piece looking like this……
I am happy with this for the most part but here are the things that I learned in making this practice piece…..
Make sure that there are no strings under the white layer…..
Draw in some basic lines to use a guide when quilting…..
I will need to stitch down the edges of the parasols, probably with a matching thread. In this sample, they lifted up as I quilted close to them and the green one has already started to shred at the edges. Having said that, I kind of like the shadow that the fabrics leave so maybe I just need to use fray-check on the parasol edges!! Okay, so this decision is still in limbo!!!!!
I like adding trees to the background, but the one on the right (with the actual branches) looks much better than the ones that are more of a fountain. Naturally, the best one takes longer to quilt!!
I like the idea of having areas of background quilted with various designs. I can play with this more as I go.
My biggest concern is that this has basically become a “Whole-Cloth” quilt. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but it sure puts a lot of pressure on me to NOT make a mistake….particularly when I am working with the black threads.
The plan is to make a strip of each pose with 3 to 7 women in each strip. As I go along, I will figure out what types of sashing to put between these strips….probably something fairly low volume.
I have ordered more Wool batting and it will be here in about 10 days. So, between now and then, I need to decide which figures I want to use, get them enlarged and start laying out the design…..
A few weeks back I posted a video from Kunming China showing women doing their morning exercises using highly colored parasols. Over these past weeks, this inspiration has slowly moved from the back of my mind to the front of my mind!!! After a lot of contemplation (AND procrastination), I have made a start!!!
The first thing that I did was to pull some screen grabs off of the video…
They are not high quality images but they served their purpose. I printed them out in black and white and used a sharpie to trace around several of the ladies in each of the poses…….
The good thing about using sharpie is that the ink soaks thru and you can see it from the back…..instant pattern!!…..
I picked out a couple of the pictures and enlarged them to the size that I was planning to work with.
Now it was decision time!!! How was I going to portray these wonderful women…..in fabric, in paint or in thread. At some point I had the idea to thread paint or quilt the women but add color for the parasols. This is the rabbit trail that I am currently heading down!!!!
For the first sample, I added a thin fusible interfacing to the back of the background fabric, traced the design, added the fabric parasol and machine stitched it…..
Then it was critique time…..
First of all, I had used a white thread in the bobbin and the white stitching came thru….NOT good!!
Second, I felt that the ribs on the parasol were too heavy
Finally, I wasn’t sure exactly how I could quilt it and make the ladies stand out.
Let’s try again!!!
This time I decided to layer the quilt sandwich and actually quilt the design in. And to take it one step further, I added two layers of batting (Warm & Natural on the bottom and Wool on the top) so that it would have a Trapunto look……
I put in a few pins to hold the layers in place……
….and it was back to the machine for stitching, using the normal 50 wt thread for the bodies and a bobbin weight thread for the parasol ribs…..
I REALLY like this a lot better!! Now to fill in the background!!
I had done the initial stitching/quilting on my normal machine (Juanita) because I had better control for the details and also because I could use a smaller needle. But, for the filler quilting, I turned to Julio (sit-down long-arm) to make the process fast and effortless!!
This is where it stands now…..
As I have written this post, I started thinking about the fact that the background could also contain some shrubbery, trees or other foliage and that would give it even more interest, both in visual effects but also for the quilter!!
There is definitely more to come with this project……..I will get back to you…………….
There are certain things in each of our personal histories that we will NEVER forget!!! It may be a wedding, a birth or even a death.
Sometimes though it is an accomplishment and that is what I am remembering today.
In October of 2015, Michael and I participated in a 10 day trek in the Himalayas, climaxing at Annapurna Base Camp!! On October 8, 2015 we reached what seemed to be the top of the world…..
After 6 hard days of climbing stairs and crossing rivers, we were there!!
The scenery was astounding…..
….and the sense of accomplishment was huge!!!
Interestingly, one of my favorite parts of the day was spent by myself in a dry lake bed, just enjoying the sight of the mountains surrounding me and hearing the glaciers breaking and falling on far slopes
Naturally, when I got home there had to be a quilt about this trip and inspiration started with the Buddhist shrines and Stupas that we passed on our journey and also the prayer flags that fluttered in the breeze.
Those inspirations and ruminations resulted in “Himalayan Hallows”……
I was pleased when it was accepted as into the “Tactile Architecture” exhibit in 2017 and loved that it traveled during that year.
This is what I wrote about the quilt for the exhibit and I think that it is the best description that I could ever give…..
I almost feel that this quilt should be called “Serendipity” because so many things happened during the construction that were not planned by me but ended up being exactly what I wanted to portray. I started the project knowing that I wasn’t sure how I would complete it and that at any point, I might ruin it, but decided that I just wanted to enjoy the process and see what happened.
As I worked on it, I thought about our 10 days of trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp and how the mountain called Machapucherie was always in our view. It is the highest peak portrayed in the quilt.
I also fondly remembered the Nepalese guides and porters who assisted us on this journey, and of the great care that they showed for each of the trekkers. I remembered how hard it was to say goodbye to them at the end of the trip and how we waved and waved until they were out of sight.
Finally, as I worked, I could smell the wood smoke pouring from the teahouses and hear the sound of the bells that hung around the necks of the pack animals that walked the trails with us.
My husband and I are privileged to have the opportunity to travel overseas often and I love making quilts that come from these journeys, but this one will always have a very special place in my heart and in my mind.
The next quilt in my “Travel Log Quilt” series is one that was made from a trip that my daughter, Jenny, took back in 2006. Now I know that this isn’t MY travel quilt, but I had been to the same area LONG before digital cameras were a thing, so I claim it anyway.
She was a Freshman at University of Georgia and decided to do “May-mester” (a short 2 week term) in Australia. Since she had been born in Australia this seemed to be the most natural thing for her to do!! She had a wonderful time there, studying the flora and fauna of such an amazing continent.
Probably her favorite part of the trip was time spent on the ocean in the North-eastern state of Queensland. She enjoyed snorkeling, sky-diving (NOT part of the course) and watching the sea turtles as they made their way from the nest to their home in the ocean.
When she returned with photos from the trip, I was enamored with this picture of a gorgeous sea turtle floating along in the ocean………
….and also these photos of other undersea creatures……
At the time I was doing a lot of work with photos in quilts and wanted to do something that mixed the photos and fabric. I started out by setting up a “new” photo that placed the turtle slightly off-center with lots of ocean surrounding……
Each of the lines in the photo represents a small portion of the ocean that I “grabbed” from somewhere else in the photo. It looks choppy here, but the final printing looked great. I printed this photo on fabric using “Printed Treasures” fabric and then started adding”stuff to it.
The three yellow and black fish are all the same photo but just printed in different sizes. They are appliqued to the ocean…..
The reef picture was also printed but I placed it over some fabrics that had a similar look…..
Back then I didn’t have the confidence to free-hand the thread corals but drew them on a wash-out stabilizer, sewed them in place, and then washed the stabilizer away.
The other small fish were simply cut out and appliqued in place without any detail added. I really wanted to give the impression of a school of fish swimming along……
Finally, I added a fabric “coral” and then thread painted over it…..
I was SO pleased with the final quilt…..
I loved mixing the photo prints, fabrics and thread work, and I loved the way the quilt spilled out into the border!!
But mostly, I love that it is a fun reminder of Jenny’s trip to Australia……